Vacaville Vice Mayor positioned himself for personal gain in promoting California Forever

Vice Mayor holds California Forever DBAs

Business linked to California Forever Home Loans

Vacaville Vice Mayor Greg Ritchie speaks to reporters after announcing his support for California Forever’s ballot initiative.

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Nick McConnell, May 2, 2024

Months before becoming the first public official to endorse California Forever, Vacaville Vice Mayor Greg Ritchie filed two “Doing Business As” names for his home loan company, Citizens Financial.

The real estate license for Ritchie, who endorsed the project on Tuesday, indicates that he filed “California Forever Home Loans” and “California Forever Homes” as DBAs for his business in January of this year. A website URL registered as exists, but now redirects to a message from Ritchie.

Documentation of the DBAs, as well as criticism of Ritchie’s decision to file them, surfaced on social media Tuesday evening, intensifying pre-existing backlash toward the vice mayor’s decision to announce support for the development company.

Ritchie said he filed the DBAs in January because he believes in the project’s goals and thinks it will have a positive impact on Solano County. While he said he “wholeheartedly understood” some of the concerns and frustration about the issue, he said his business will be interested in helping people access the downpayment assistance that California Forever has promised to provide.

“I want to make one thing crystal clear — neither my company nor myself have any economic relationship or interest in California Forever,” Ritchie wrote on the site. “I have also not received any donations or political contributions for my endorsement. My endorsement was given purely based on my professional and personal belief that this is a good project that will help thousands of Solano families reach the dream of homeownership.”

A major concern for Ritchie is the lack of affordable housing options available to Travis Air Force Base service members in the immediate area around the base, and he believes California Forever’s new community could go a long way to solving that issue for Solano County.

This is not the first time that Ritchie has faced backlash over a DBA. He faced criticism over his “The Badge’s Broker” DBA during the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020. He said at that time, he refused to remove the DBA because he did not want to play into tribalism.

“I chose to take the road less traveled and go down that road and stay strong,” he said.

Ritchie said he is particularly excited about the downpayment assistance that the plan could provide. Citizens Financial connects people to funding for downpayment regularly, Ritchie said, and he looks forward to helping more people if the initiative is passed. He described the lack of access to capital for a downpayment as the “Achilles Heel” of housing in California and described himself as a subject matter expert in providing that funding.

“I have proved myself for over a decade that whoever works for my company, they actually care,” he said.

Ritchie noted that refusing to provide home loans based on where someone would be living is illegal under federal law.

“Like many Solano County small business owners, Greg Ritchie sees the potential of the East Solano Plan to help the thousands of working families who are struggling to purchase their own homes,” California Forever Campaign Manager Matt Rodriguez said. “His endorsement is solely based on the merits of the East Solano Plan and we greatly appreciate his support.”

Rodriguez said he was disappointed by the “bullying” of fellow Solano County residents and business owners he has seen toward those who support the initiative. As the campaign moves forward, he said he hopes for “collaborative and respectful dialogue.”

“We look forward to more folks learning about the Homes For All guarantee of $400 million in downpayment assistance and how it can meaningfully improve the wellbeing of this great community,” he said.